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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 April 2018

President of Finland adds UAE to list of countries he’s skated in

Sauli Niinisto met with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid as part of his visit to the UAE but also took time out to rollerblade along the corniche and the Yas Marina South Circiut.

Sauli Niinisto, the president of Finland, goes rollerblading at Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday in Abu Dhabi, continuing his globetrotting tradition of diplomacy on wheels. Ravindranath K / The National
Sauli Niinisto, the president of Finland, goes rollerblading at Yas Marina Circuit on Sunday in Abu Dhabi, continuing his globetrotting tradition of diplomacy on wheels. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // The president of Finland has added the UAE to the list of places in which he has rollerbladed, taking a spin around the Yas Marina South Circuit.

“Well, I’m collecting, in a way, different places,” said Sauli Niinisto. “I have skated in Tiananmen Square [in Beijing], in Broadway [in New York City] and many places between.”

Mr Niinisto said that he has been skating for decades and that he started rollerblading during summer in the 1990s, when he was a finance minister. He has since rollerbladed in more than 30 countries.

Mr Niinisto called the circuit one of the best places to skate that he had visited.

Every year in Finland, he rollerblades more than 1,000 kilometres during the summer but during autumn, Mr Niinisto visits the UAE for a holiday.

He said he chose the UAE as his destination for many reasons other than the weather.

“Not only because of the sun, not only because of the sea, not only because of the malls – which my wife likes a lot – not only because of the interesting traditions, but also because one really feels safe here, and that’s quite a lot nowadays,” he said. He met Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, on Saturday, and on Sunday rollerbladed nearly 12 kilometres on the Corniche as part of his morning exercise.

He then met Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, to discuss matters including investment, developments in Yemen, extremism and terrorism.

The Finnish president also briefed Sheikh Mohammed on developments in Ukraine.

nalwasmi@thenational.ae